Hiroshima Revisited: Memorializing The Horrors Of War With 10 Must-See War Films

Authored by John Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute,

“The horror... the horror...”—Apocalypse Now (1979)

Nearly 73 years ago, the United States unleashed atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing more than 200,000 individuals, many of whom were civilians.

Fast forward to the present day, and the U.S. military under President Trump’s leadership is dropping a bomb every 12 minutes.

This follows on the heels of President Obama, the antiwar candidate and Nobel Peace Prize winner who waged war longer than any American president and whose targeted-drone killings continued to feed the war machine and resulted in at least 1.3 million lives lost to the U.S.-led war on terror.

America has long had a penchant for endless wars that empty our national coffers while fattening those of the military industrial complex. Since 9/11, we’ve spent more than $1.6 trillion to wage wars in Afghanistan and Iraq

When you add in our military efforts in Syria and Pakistan, as well as the lifetime price of health care for disabled veterans and interest on the national debt, that cost rises to $5.6 trillion.

Even with America’s military might spread thin, the war drums continue to sound as the Pentagon polices the rest of the world with more than 1.3 million U.S. troops being stationed at roughly 1000 military bases in over 150 countries.

To this end, Americans are fed a steady diet of pro-war propaganda that keeps them content to wave flags with patriotic fervor and less inclined to look too closely at the mounting body counts, the ruined lives, the ravaged countries, the blowback arising from ill-advised targeted-drone killings and bombing campaigns in foreign lands, or the transformation of our own homeland into a warzone.

Nowhere is this double-edged irony more apparent than during military holidays, when we get treated to a generous serving of praise and grandstanding by politicians, corporations and others with similarly self-serving motives eager to go on record as being pro-military.

Yet war is a grisly business, a horror of epic proportions. In terms of human carnage alone, war’s devastation is staggering. For example, it is estimated that approximately 231 million people died worldwide during the wars of the 20th century. This figure does not take into account the walking wounded—both physically and psychologically—who “survive” war.

War drives the American police state.

The military-industrial complex is the world’s largest employer.

War sustains our way of life while killing us at the same time. As Pulitzer Prize-winning war correspondent and author Chris Hedges observes:

War is like a poison. And just as a cancer patient must at times ingest a poison to fight off a disease, so there are times in a society when we must ingest the poison of war to survive. But what we must understand is that just as the disease can kill us, so can the poison. If we don't understand what war is, how it perverts us, how it corrupts us, how it dehumanizes us, how it ultimately invites us to our own self-annihilation, then we can become the victim of war itself.

War also entertains us with its carnage, its killing fields, its thrills and chills and bloodied battles set to music and memorialized in books, on television, in video games, and in superhero films and blockbuster Hollywood movies financed in part by the military.

War has become a centerpiece of American entertainment culture, most prevalent in war movies.

War movies deal in the extremes of human behavior. The best films address not only destruction on a vast scale but also plumb the depths of humanity’s response to the grotesque horror of war. They present human conflict in its most bizarre conditions—where men and women caught in the perilous straits of death perform feats of noble sacrifice or dig into the dark battalions of cowardice.

War films also provide viewers with a way to vicariously experience combat, but the great ones are not merely vehicles for escapism. Instead, they provide a source of inspiration, while touching upon the fundamental issues at work in wartime scenarios.

As film director Sam Fuller points out, “You can’t show war as it really is on the screen, with all the blood and gore. Perhaps it would be better if you could fire real shots over the audience’s head every night, you know, and have actual casualties in the theater.”

While there are many films to choose from, the following 10 classic war films touch on modern warfare (from the First World War onward) and run the gamut of conflicts and human emotions and center on the core issues often at work in the nasty business of war.

The Third Man (1949). Carol Reed’s The Third Man, which deals primarily with the after-effects of the ravages of war, is a great film by anyone’s standards. Set in postwar Europe, this bleak film (written by Graham Greene) sets forth the proposition that the corruption inherent in humanity means that the ranks of war are never closed. There are many fine performances in this film, including Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten and Alida Valli.

Paths of Glory (1957). This Stanley Kubrick film is an antiwar masterpiece. The setting is 1916, when two years of trench warfare have arrived at a stalemate. And while nothing of importance is occurring in the war, thousands of lives are being lost. But the masters of war pull the puppet strings, and the blood continues to flow. This film is packed with good performances, especially from Kirk Douglas and George Macready.

The Manchurian Candidate (1962). John Frankenheimer’s classic focuses on the psychological effects of war and its transmutation into mind control and political assassination. All the lines of intrigue converge to form a prophetic vision of what occurred the year after the film’s release with the assassination of John F. Kennedy. This chilling film is well written (co-written by Frankenheimer and George Axelrod) and acted. Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey and Angela Lansbury head a fine cast.

Dr. Strangelove, Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb (1964). One of the great films of all time, Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove burst onto the cinematic landscape and cast a cynical eye on the entire business of war. Strange and surreal, this film is packed full of amazing images and great performances. Peter Sellers should have walked off with the Oscar for best actor (but he didn’t). Sterling Hayden and George C. Scott are excellent in support.

The Deer Hunter (1978). Michael Cimino’s Academy Award-winning film is one of the most emotion-invoking films ever made. This story of a group of Pennsylvania steel mill workers who endure excruciating ordeals in the Vietnam War is one film that makes its point clear—war is the horror of all horrors. Superb performance by Christopher Walken, who won a best supporting actor Oscar.

Apocalypse Now (1979). I consider this Francis Ford Coppola’s best film. Based on Joseph Conrad’s novella, The Heart of Darkness, Captain Willard (Martin Sheen) treks to the Cambodian jungle to assassinate renegade, manic Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando). This antiwar epic is a great visual experience with fine performances from its ensemble cast.

Platoon (1986). This is not Oliver Stone’s best film, but it is one helluva war movie. Set before and during the Tet Offensive of January 1968, this is a gritty view of the Vietnam War by one who served there. Indeed, when Stone is not filling the screen with explosions, he makes the jungle seem all too real—a wet place for bugs, leeches and snakes, but not for people. Fine performances by Willem Dafoe and Tom Berenger.

Full Metal Jacket (1987). Stanley Kubrick’s take on Vietnam is one of the most powerful and psychological dramas ever made. Focusing on the schizophrenic nature of the human psyche—the duality of man—Kubrick takes us through a hell-like Parris Island boot camp and into the bowels of a surreal Vietnam through the eyes of Joker (Matthew Modine). Every facet of this film, as in all of Kubrick’s work, is top notch.

Jacob’s Ladder (1990). Adrian Lyne’s thriller hits the psyche like a thunderbolt. A man (Tim Robbins) struggles with what he saw while serving in Vietnam. Back home, he gradually becomes unable to separate "reality" from the surreal, psychotic world that intermittently intervenes in his existence. This bizarre film touches on the sordid nature of war and the corruption of those who manipulate and experiment on us while we fight on their behalf. Good cast (especially Elizabeth Peña), an excellent screenplay (Bruce Joel Rubin) and adept directing make this film one nice trip.

Jarhead (2005). Sam Mendes’ film follows a Marine recruit (Jake Gyllenhaal) through Marine boot camp to service in Operation Desert Storm, winding up at the Highway of Death. But what Mendes serves up is war as a phallic obsession in the oil-drenched sands of Kuwait and Iraq. Here soldiers fight not for causes but to survive in the nihilistic pursuit of destruction. Fine performance by Jamie Foxx as Sergeant Sykes.

As these films illustrate, war is indeed hell.

As I point out in my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police Statewhat we must decide is whether we’re stuck with the grim reality of war, or whether we’re prepared to do as Martin Luther King suggested in his Nobel Peace Prize lecture and find an alternative to war.

Speaking in Oslo in 1964, King declared:

Man’s proneness to engage in war is still a fact. But wisdom born of experience should tell us that war is obsolete. There may have been a time when war served as a negative good by preventing the spread and growth of an evil force, but the destructive power of modern weapons eliminated even the possibility that war may serve as a negative good. If we assume that life is worth living and that man has a right to survive, then we must find an alternative to war.


lock-stick remain calm Sat, 08/04/2018 - 00:33 Permalink

ONE whackjob obsessed SPAMMER!!!

•• More Sun (it's the JOOS!!

•• sanctificado  (Biblicism SPAMMER -- banned as powow/Wadolt/ravolla/lloll/pier/etc.)

•• Free This  (same WHACK JOB -- used to be "Mr Hankey" -- also banned)

•• Cryptopithicus Homme  (another "imaginary friend")


spamming ZH for seven years --- dozens and dozens of banned log-ons




Write to the Tylers ::  abuse@zerohedge.com

In reply to by remain calm

UmbilicalMosqu… Jack McGriff Sat, 08/04/2018 - 09:42 Permalink

"White Tiger," a Russian film, was interesting (English subtitles). Free on youtube...




"Dear Elza"...


"A Bridge Too Far"...


"Sergeant York"...


"War in Bosnia"...


"The Thin Red Line"...


"A Walk in the Sun"...


"Battle of Long Tan"...


"Chosin Reservoir - Epic of Endurance"...


"The Battle of Okinawa - Documentary"...


In reply to by Jack McGriff

teutonicate lock-stick Sat, 08/04/2018 - 18:04 Permalink

@ remain calm  Tyler, no problem with the premise of this article.  Cabalist promoted white-on-white brother wars are an outcome that should be avoided at all costs.

The reason Saving Private Ryan did not make the list (one can always hope) is that it is flagrant jewish anti-White propaganda, like most popular war movies have been since WWII.

Was the "spine shot" levied by the "deranged" German soldier really an accurate portrayal of German sensibilities during the war?  In a pigs eye.

Which raises a point that some of my more observant ZH friends have hinted at already.

The real crime is that the cabal promoted and/or financed most of these wars, and they now have the audacity to sell us a spin-doctored version of history (in the form of film) that totally whitewashes the jewish role in their initiation - for profit no less, while emphasizing the holohoax.

One could argue that this cynical act constitutes and even greater crime against humanity than the wars were.


In reply to by lock-stick

Endgame Napoleon glenlloyd Sat, 08/04/2018 - 01:11 Permalink

Sometimes, statistical numbers seem as fictional and over-the-top as a technicolor movie. The “estimate” of 1.3 million drone killings was made by Western doctors, including Americans, who are no doubt brave, but they are working in war zones, halfway around the globe. This suggests that they are as dispassionate as Peace Corps or Ebola volunteers, trudging off to Africa to provide free medical care, even though  America is a country where 30 million citizens have access only to emergency room care. These American doctors are saving the global people, rather than sacrificing some income in their own country by providing affordable care. They are in a profession that commands massive salaries. In this era, their spouses, too, often take a job out of an underemployed economy, where 101 citizens are out of the labor market, while 78 million work piecework gigs. Rather than raising their own kids, they double up on breadwinner jobs with benefits, and their chosen charity work is 5,000 miles away. Anything global makes a better virtue-signaling story at cocktail parties. That is why the stats seem biased.

In reply to by glenlloyd

Shift For Brains glenlloyd Sat, 08/04/2018 - 09:00 Permalink

It becomes very obvious why the MIC has to own the organs of news, entertainment and education. Without a non-stop drumbeat of lies and propaganda, who in their right mind would fight and die for the sons of bitches who run things around the world?

China, the US, UK, North Korea, Russia (although they seem to be responding to threats more than making them)...and on and on. The message is it's a glorious thing to die for your country. The truth is you are a deluded moron if you think your service (and possible death) is anything more than just cost of materials to the Unhumans who run this planet.

If humanity ever wakes up to this, the revenge will be a terrible/wonderful thing to behold.

**Added**Gen. Patton was right about a lot of things but he wasn't right when he said it's a glorious thing to make the other poor sonofabitch die for his country. It would be a glorious thing to make the sons of bitches who run things die en masse for the good of the world.

In reply to by glenlloyd

SocratesSolutions Oldguy05 Sat, 08/04/2018 - 00:57 Permalink

Looks like Tom Hanks is a dead man walking: a pedophile. 

And his Jewish buddy Spielberg. Dead men walking. 

And the ugly lady Streep or Strep Throat whatever her lousy name is. Dead meat walking all three of them. Didn't those three Satanic dead meat walking pedophiles do a final movie together recently? 

Time to burn it all down. The Satanic Judaic religion is the center of it. It will be destroyed. The non-Jew white pieces of shit acolytes will die in the fire. Not a single pedophile is going to be left alive on Earth. Anywhere. Watch. 

In reply to by Oldguy05

bshirley1968 The Blank Stare Sun, 08/05/2018 - 09:16 Permalink

+100 for Kelly's Heroes. Great movie. War movies give us a look at raw humanity. People in extreme situations that push them to the limits and reveal the character under the veneer.

Stalag 17
Guns of Navarone
Bridge On River Kwai
Murphy's War
Lawrence of Arabia
Sargent York

The list goes on. Not a fan of the new desert war crap. Can't stop thinking about the bullshit reasons we are there. Most Vietnam movies are not my cup of tea. Did enjoy "Good Morning Vietnam" and "We Were Soldiers" was the best combat Vietnam movie.....Ever.

And don't forget "Zulu" or "The Three Feathers".

Too many to list that demonstrate great performances of humanity's ability to rise above base animal instincts and demonstrate a high level of character.

In reply to by The Blank Stare

yvhmer Oldguy05 Sat, 08/04/2018 - 06:31 Permalink

Adding: die Brücke,  the bridge, black and white German post war movie . 

Inglorious Bastards.. ..

Waterloo. ..

I guess there are many dates connected to the horror of war. It is not only the soldier , there is also the civilian.. .. Rations, hunger, loss of family and means of production, false imprisonment , death squads, running from the fighting,  rape, murder, slavery,.....  

Wallenstein. ....


In reply to by Oldguy05

Moving and Grooving yvhmer Sat, 08/04/2018 - 10:16 Permalink

That reminded me - Das Boot. The best sub war movie ever, it's got it all.


Ever seen the original Baron Munchhausen movie? The original was made in Germany during WWII, the only non-propaganda film Hitler authorized during the war. Famous Director.


I bought it on VHS years ago when a video store closed. Released in 1944, I think. Incredible film, the effects are astonishing. Apparently it's an ancient traditional story, updated to the times. The remake tracked the story well, albeit with Monty Pythonish humor added - the original was played without the slapstick. But I like the newer one too.



In reply to by yvhmer

bshirley1968 Bendromeda Strain Sun, 08/05/2018 - 09:28 Permalink

Can't stand that island hopping bullshit. Some of the stories and acting was good, but the premise behind those "battles" was pure bullshit.

The Japanese navy had been destroyed. We could have passed those island and gone straight to Tokyo. Those islands would have been nothing more than prison camps. No way off, no supplies, etc. Complete waste of time, effort, and most importantly lives. We could have demonstrated the bomb on one of those islands and sent the film to Tokyo. It still pisses me off that we didn't bomb the emperor and the leadership that started the Japanese war movement. Why the hell did we go to Hiroshima and Nagasaki? War is a hell of the extreme stupidity of people. Always about the symptoms and never the cause.

Redacted. A mistake on my part.

In reply to by Bendromeda Strain

OverTheHedge remain calm Sat, 08/04/2018 - 09:44 Permalink

Love the sarc!

I have a fondness for hamburger hill, if only to show the utter pointlessness of it all.

And Avatar is a good example of how American values have been corrupted to such an extent that any thing of beauty must be utterly debauched by violence for no purpose (I'm talking about the film itself, not any "life-affirming" lessons the pointlessly shallow plot might have given us).

In reply to by remain calm

drstrangelove73 Boing_Snap Sat, 08/04/2018 - 10:32 Permalink

We will have wars and rumors of war until the end of time-such is the nature of man-attempts to abolish it,like attempts to abolish poverty,are doomed to failure.Human life is either a tale,told by an idiot,full of sound and fury,signifying nothing,or it is something more;not a serpent chasing his tail in a circular motion,but an arrow flying through time to its desired target/end.Does it matter what we do and how we shall then live?Stay tuned...

In reply to by Boing_Snap

SocratesSolutions sanctificado Sat, 08/04/2018 - 00:54 Permalink

Then if all wars are evil, what are the people that make them and brag about it? What are the people that fund both sides? 

"If my sons did not want war, there would be none". Now who was the piece of shit lady that ever said that? 

Time to remove the dogshit from the World Stage. You've been played America. You have no history. You have no country. Until you remove the dogshit Satanic Jews from the World Stage you are indeed—nothing but cows being slaughtered and 911'd in America. 


In reply to by sanctificado

Endgame Napoleon SocratesSolutions Sat, 08/04/2018 - 01:27 Permalink

All wars are not equal, and evil is relative. Hitler had to be stopped. His doings were about as evil as it gets. Imperial Japan had to be stopped, too, with their suicidal air missions. They also treated American soldiers in a sadistic-cubed way.


After the war, the Japanese built an impressive society, but then, they have had multiple, historical periods, with a middle-class economy and rich culture. They just went fascist in WWII.

Truman thought the Japanese would never surrender, forcing the US to fight a land war in Asia, which would cost an enormous, additional number of American lives in a war that we did not start. The Japanese bombed us; that is why the USA got into WWII.

In reply to by SocratesSolutions